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Sunday, Dec 24, 2017

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Serious Santa

Neufeld: SOGI desperately trying to stifle public debate

By Barry Neufeld , Trustee, Chilliwack Board of Education


Barry Neufeld raised money for the Salvation Army last week.


irst of all, the title of the front-page article in the Chilliwack Progress is totally false. I did NOT call myself a prophet. And I did NOT include language suggesting that I see myself as a prophet.

I said: “but it seems that I have been suddenly thrown into the role of a prophet: speaking out to the lawmakers in Victoria...”

I have been overwhelmed by the hundreds of messages of support from Chilliwack and across the country. Mostly parents and grandparents of children in the public-school system. I have a legal role as an elected Board of Education Trustee to act as proxy for parents of school children. This is upheld by the 2002 Supreme Court case of Chamberlain v Surrey School District No 36, who said in their majority decision:  


“The School Board is an elected body and a proxy for parents and local community members, which suggests that some deference is owed. The Board must act in a way that promotes respect and tolerance for all the diverse groups that it represents and serves.”

The reason the Supreme Court ruled against the Surrey School board was because it would not allow BOTH opinions to be considered in the classroom.

In the current debate, the shoe is on the other foot! The advocates of SOGI 123, are desperately trying to stifle public debate on this issue, they are proceeding in an exclusionary manner, acting only on behalf of those parents who unequivocally endorse gender fluid theory and unquestioningly validate childhood expressions of gender-dysphoria, without considering the interest of those families who hold a contrary belief. I firmly believe these families also deserve equal recognition and respect in the school system.

I am trying to bring the concerns of families who have contrary opinions into the debate. But the advocates of SOGI 123 are trying to silence not only me, but parents, teachers and taxpayers who are uncomfortable with this approach. SOGI advocates abandon all reason when they cry: “If you disagree with us, you are a transphobic bigot!”

Section 76 (of the BC School Act) does not prohibit decisions about school governance that are informed by religious belief. The section is aimed at fostering tolerance and diversity of views, not at shutting religion out of the arena. It does not limit in any way the freedom of parents and Board members to adhere to a religious doctrine, but it does prohibit the enforcement of such doctrine into policy decisions by the Board, thereby denying the validity of other points of view.

The School Act insists that schools be governed in a nonsectarian manner. Non-sectarian means not involving or relating to a specific religious sect or political group. NOTE: not just religious groups but also a political group is SECTARIAN! Any special interest group that seeks to influence political policies (including educational ones) is a political group. Last year, Mike Bernier, then Minister of Education in BC entered into a sweet contract with a very sectarian group, the ARC Foundation who gathered several LGBTQ+ activist groups together in the process that produced SOGI 123. They were sectarian! Many other groups were not represented in that discussion. They were excluded.

The Board of Education is the proxy for parents, not the Ministry of Education, not the provincial legislature, not the BC Teacher's Federation and certainly not some Human Rights Commission. Common law precedes all such institutions, being foundational to British/ Canadian jurisprudence. That means that, as it concerns the education and wellbeing of children, the law would be inclined to uphold the rights of the parents first, and school boards (as their proxy) second. This was recently reaffirmed (Nov 22, 2017) by the Ontario Court of Appeal who said:

“The right of parents to care for their children and make decisions for their well-being, including decisions about education, is primary, and the state’s authority is secondary to that parental right.”
— Justice Lauwers, Ontario Court of Appeal

Human Rights must be reciprocal, going both ways. I don’t think SOGI 123 strikes such a balance, and I don’t think those who drafted if were even trying to be balanced. I have consistently called for a revision of the SOGI 123 resources: not total abolition. I want to ensure inclusion for ALL students, no matter what values they are taught at home.

Our society has lost all semblance of democracy if elected officials such as myself are permitted no comment, and no opportunity to even debate, matters that are clearly of concern to those who el ected them.

Finally, I have a question for Ms. Katrine Conroy the Minister of Children and Family Development. Would you approve a family as foster parents or adoptive parents if they do not agree with the LGBTQ+ lifestyle? Why do you include that question on your application forms?

Trustee, Chilliwack Board of Education

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